The caged butterfly beats wings
against captivity, hostage to forces
beyond the walls imprisoning it.
Arresting (and attractive) orange
(dotted with black) elegance —
I am enchanted by such
spunky thrashing against its netted bondage,
beauty bound for something more.
What makes me move on past
the incongruous scene (set behind
an inhibiting screen) is the thought
(or is it hope?) that the lattice serves as shield,
protecting the gentle innocence within,
armor against the elements — a matter
of perspective authentically mine,
beset with doubts until I’m out of view.
I wouldn’t call it arachnophobia.
I’m not paralyzed at the sight of a spider
proudly squatting on a sticky throne
enormous bug eyes surveilling
the nightmares of smaller bugs soon to wander
through a web of foreboding.
But the thought of eight legs skittering
across my skin — pincers pelting me with jitters,
tremors rippling over me
in concentric circles of panic,
now unsure of my link
on the food chain.
An industrious toddle escaped
the ravenous escalator as its chomping teeth
receded nearly underfoot, a hunger
refusing to crumble.
Should this child —
claiming all 10 toes by the grace of
toddler intuition — grant clemency to
the peckish conveyance for lowering itself
to our most base levels?
What of the parents? You would
be forgiven for refusing them absolution
for their negligence, clutching
a phone and counting likes
on both hands.
I lean to lenience. We have survived
parenthood to this point asking only
for mercy in our lowest moments,
repenting of sins of omission but never
forgetting the ride can sometimes
Once bitten, my son now fears all wasps,
bees – insects really – flying near our porch
or on his swing set. Twice, shy,
he has refused to go outside with me
today, hiding behind the safety of our walls
playing with toy cars, plastic trucks, and other
synthetic things. I want to keep him safe –
of course I do – but a world awaits him,
one with bee stings and honey,
blood red mosquito bites and
phosphorescent lightning bugs, itchy irritating
pollen clouds and sticky sweet maple syrup
and I must give a name to each of these today
so he can name his own world tomorrow.
We must take our lumps with sugar:
bees produce honey, pollen grows flowers,
and while I’m not sure mosquitoes
do anything pleasant, I spent many orange summer
dusks chasing lightning bugs and collecting lumps
And long to watch the joy in his eyes
as he braves the wilds of our back yard.